Industrial espionage, spies, and high finance: the Joseph Finder thrillers

Joseph Finder thrillers: Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder

Boston-based thriller author Joseph Finder holds degrees in Russian studies from Yale and Harvard and taught for a time on the Harvard faculty. As of 2020, he has written 17 novels about industrial espionage and international intrigue. At this writing, I’ve read and reviewed all but four of the Joseph Finder thrillers: Red Carpet (1983), Company Man (2005), and Power Play (2007), as well as the most recently published, House on Fire (2020), number four in the Nick Heller series. Once I get around to reading them, I’ll flesh out this post.

The Moscow Club (1991)—Joseph Finder’s Moscow Club: a spy thriller to keep you up at night

If you suspend disbelief, as science fiction writers ask you to do, you may enjoy this intricately plotted thriller from one of America’s best contemporary novelists of suspense. For starters, you’ll need to imagine a brilliant young CIA analyst with a near-eidetic memory who is also, though untrained, accomplished in hand-to-hand combat, picking locks, and repairing cars. Read the review.

Extraordinary Powers (1994)—A standout among espionage thrillers from Joseph Finder

If you’re a fan of espionage thrillers and you can get past a collection of highly unlikely circumstances that constitute the novel’s premise, you’ll love Joseph Finder’s Extraordinary Powers. Once you swallow your qualms and suspend disbelief, you’re likely to be swept along at warp-speed in a danger-filled chase through Italy, Switzerland, France, and Canada. Read the review.

The Zero Hour (1996)—From Joseph Finder, a fascinating novel of terrorism before 9/11

Published five years before 9/11, The Zero Hour manages to treat a very different terrorist attack on New York City in a compelling way. The cast of characters includes a chameleon-like terrorist-for-hire reminiscent of Frederick Forsyth’s Jackal, a fugitive financier thirsting for revenge against the banker and the system that forced him to flee the U.S., a brilliant American investigator whose life is complicated by a jealous ex-husband and a precocious 8-year-old son, a prominent and wealthy banker with a taste for masochistic sex, and a crusty New York City police lieutenant who knows all the tricks ever tried. Read the review.

High Crimes (1998)—A taut thriller about Special Forces running amok in El Salvador in 1983

Tom Chapman is a loving, family man who runs his own investment firm in Boston and lives with his adoring wife, Claire, a Harvard Law School professor with a reputation for merciless performances in the courtroom. Now, the U.S. Army claims Chapman’s true name is Ronald Kubik, a former Master Sergeant in the Special Forces, and proceeds to put him on trial for the 1983 massacre of 87 innocent civilians in a village in El Salvador. Claire (of course!) moves to defend him in his court-martial. To my mind, this is one of the best of the Joseph Finder thrillers. Read the review.

Paranoia (2004)—In “Paranoia,” Joseph Finder spins a devilishly clever tale

Adam Cassidy works in a low-level job at the huge high-tech firm Wyatt Technologies. When he decides to game the system and transfer company funds to pay for a retirement party for a man in the shipping department, his troubles begin. Big troubles. Threatening to send him to prison for years for embezzlement unless Adam cooperates, the company’s nasty, paranoid owner Nicholas Wyatt forces him to become an industrial spy. Nick Wyatt is “a guy so crooked he’d cheat on a prostate exam.” Nobody says no to Nick. Nobody. Ever. Read the review.

Killer Instinct (2006)— Heart-pounding suspense in a thriller about industrial espionage

Like several of his other books, Killer Instinct is a tale of industrial espionage. But this is espionage with a twist—not one company (or one country) spying on a competing business but espionage within a single company, for the most part. It’s a clever story, even if one of the two central characters is a little hard to believe. And Finder brings to the book his characteristic skill in building heart-pounding suspense. Read the review.

Vanished: Nick Heller #1 (2009)—Joseph Finder disappoints with “Vanished”

Unfortunately, unlike other of Finder’s novels that I’ve read, this book is disappointingly flawed by what in the film industry would be tagged as egregious errors of continuity. These errors rob the story of its already marginal credibility, given the exaggerated competence of its hero, former Special Forces soldier and investigator par excellence, Nick Heller. Read the review.

Buried Secrets: Nick Heller #2 (2011)—A thriller that explores the intersection of high finance and high crime

Although it seems so at first, this is by no means a typical detective story. As Nick Heller searches for the missing young daughter of a hedge fund billionaire, he soon finds himself enmeshed in a deadly game involving international criminal forces and probably the Russian regime to boot. Along the way, Heller rekindles an old love affair that seems to suggest a partnership in future stories. Buried Secrets, like many of the other Joseph Finder novels I’ve read, is a cut or two above other thrillers—in its intricate plotting, its in-depth characterizations, and its hard-hitting writing. This is a standout among the Joseph Finder thrillers. Read the review.

Suspicion (2014)—Nail-biting suspense in Joseph Finder’s latest thriller

For the first time in a great while, I literally couldn’t put this book down—I HAD to know who was doing what to whom! Danny Goodman is writing a biography of a 19th century Robber Baron when he crosses paths with Tom Galvin, an extremely wealthy investment manager. Danny is in deep trouble financially—between book advances, as it were—but finds a white knight in Tom, who befriends him. Tom loans Danny a large sum to bail him out. Then the trouble starts. Big trouble. Read the review.

The Fixer (2015)—Joseph Finder’s latest crime novel isn’t great

The story begins auspiciously when Rick Hoffman stumbles across a huge pile of cash behind a wall while renovating his father’s house. $3.4 million, in fact. The cash leads to questions about the old man’s work as a lawyer. Rick had always known Leonard as a defense attorney for small-time porn purveyors, drug dealers, and other assorted scumbags. Clearly, though, the pile of cash suggests Leonard was involved in something bigger. Rick, an investigative reporter who was fired from his last job, determines to find out for himself what nefarious business the old man was engaged in. Read the review.

Guilty Minds: Nick Heller #3 (2016)—An explosive thriller about scandal at the highest level

One of the most powerful men in the nation calls on Nick Heller to disprove the charges in a forthcoming story on a high-profile online news site. A private investigator with a staff of two and a meager client list, Nick is hard-pressed to refuse. And when he discovers that the allegations that are soon to surface online involve the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he approaches the case with a mixture of curiosity and caution. The catch? He has just 48 hours to find evidence of the truth. Read the review.

The Switch (2017)—A missing laptop, top-secret files, the NSA, and a hitman

The novel opens at LAX, where Tanner picks up the wrong MacBook at the tail end of the security line—and the U.S. Senator whose computer it is finds herself in possession of Tanner’s. Unfortunately for all concerned, Senator Robbins’ MacBook illegally contains a folder full of higher-than-top-secret files from the NSA. If they’re discovered, her plans to run for President will be dashed. Robbins sets in motion an effort to recover the missing laptop—at any cost. Read the review.

Judgment (2019)—A high-stakes courtroom drama in Joseph Finder’s new novel

Juliana Brody is living the good life. She’s “in her early forties, but as her mother liked to say immodestly, she had good genes.” She’s a respected judge on the Superior Court in Boston, and happily married with two teenage children. And she’s touted to be in contention for Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. But then the whole painstakingly constructed edifice of her life begins to crack. Joseph Finder’s tension-filled new novel, Judgment, tells the tale. Read the review.

Beyond the Joseph Finder thrillers: for further reading

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